by Mirra Price
Gender equality is often seen as a woman’s issue. Yet gender equality for women is good for men as well as women. I’m listing here a few steps that men can take to become allies to women in our struggle for gender equality.
- Acknowledge male privilege. Since men were born into a system in which men hold power and women are mostly excluded from it, they tend not to realize the benefits they are getting just from being born a male. A man who transitioned to a woman was amazed at what he was expected to endure as a woman that he does not have to put up with now as a man. 26-year-old Alex Poon, a Wellesley graduate, who transitioned from being a female to a male said, “Recently, I’ve been noticing the difference between being perceived as a woman versus being perceived as a man. I’ve been wondering how I can strike the right balance between remembering how it feels to be silenced and talked over with the privileges that come along with being perceived as a man.” Crossing the Divide
- Become allies with women. Simply not displaying male superiority is not enough. Women need men to be allies against all forms of discrimination and abuse. If someone catcalls a woman, call him down. If a man mansplains to a woman, point it out and expose it as demeaning to her. If women are not given proper scope to express their voices, advocate for them with other men.
- Challenge toxic masculinity. Don’t buy into stereotypes in which men have to be tough and cannot express their feelings. Become positive role models for other men, to show that caring for ourselves and the wellbeing of others is not just a feminine trait. Listen more than you talk. Encourage boys to respect girls and treat them with kindness and fairness rather than feeling they have to make them into conquests to prove themselves. Girls everywhere are undervalued, undermined, and underestimated.
- Help transform power dynamics and Support Women Taking the Lead Men often fear that the empowerment of girls and women will mean losing some of their own status, but equality benefits us all. For example, distribution of child care and domestic tasks in the home encourages more satisfying and happy relationships. In the labor force, greater equality leads to better levels of production and satisfaction. Promoting women and girls’ leadership will create positive change in the whole community. Gender equity is not only a human right, but it is the foundation upon which we can build a better, more sustainable world. We need both men and women fighting together to build an equal, inclusive, progressive society. Are you with us, men?